Letters from Lodi

An insightful and objective look at viticulture and winemaking from the Lodi
Appellation and the growers and vintners behind these crafts. Told from the
perspective of multi-award winning wine journalist, Randy Caparoso.

Randy Caparoso
March 30, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Award winning New York sommelier finds his kismet handcrafting Lodi grown Mission and Dry White Zinfandel

Colorful berries of the historic, and now rare, Mission grape in Mokelumne River-Lodi's 18-acre Somers Vineyard

Patrick Cappiello is a sommelier with over 25 years of experience in the restaurant wine industry, mostly in New York City. He's been very successful at it, having earned recognitions such as a Wine Spectator "Grand Award" for three different restaurants, named a 2014 "Sommelier of the Year" by Food & Wine Magazine, "Wine Person of the Year 2014" by Imbibe Magazine, and "Sommelier of the Year 2015" by Eater National.

And now Mr. Cappiello is in the process of transitioning from a career as a sommelier to winemaker, and has begun producing wine from... Lodi!

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Randy Caparoso
March 26, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Surviving shelter-in-place with Tempranillo and its ideal food match (high myoglobin proteins)

Illustration from Cervantes' Don Quixote, depicting the early 1600s anti-hero's faithful companion Sancho Panza enjoying the local wine of Spain's La Mancha region (in all likelihood made from Tempranillo, the dominant grape of La Mancha)

In week 2 of our mandated shelter-in-place living situation, let's talk Tempranillo and its ideal food matches, or what we would describe as high myoglobin foods — essentially, red meat (if you want to skip the wine geek talk, scroll straight to the end of this post for our recipes for Parmesan Crusted Lamb Burgers and Catalan Barbecued Rack of Lamb and Vegetables).

First, let's talk about the grape itself: A black skinned variety native to Spain, which produces a wine that is just beginning to slip into the lexicon of the average American wine lover. It took a while — over 100 years, to be exact, as we know from historical accounts that Tempranillo was first introduced to California during the 1880s (listed among the varieties cultivated at the U.C. Davis Foothill Experiment Station in Jackson, Amador County during the late 1800s, and where U.C. Davis plant pathologist Dr. Austin Goheen “rediscovered” selections in 1963)... 

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Randy Caparoso
March 23, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Final farewell to Lodi's mysterious, mythical, red haired ZinFest muse

The first, serene appearance of ZinFest artist Vince McIndoe’s red haired muse, contemplating the banks of beautiful Lodi Lake Park, in 2007

In 2020 Lodi's biggest annual wine festival, formerly known as ZinFest, was to take place on May 15-16, rechristened as Lodi Row x Row Festival. Alas, because of our global battle to flatten the curve of COVID-19, the festival has been cancelled. All previously paid purchases are being refunded.

Rest-assured, though, a 2021 Lodi Row x Row Festival is most definitely on our calendar for May 14-15 of next year, and will offer the same (probably more!) extravagance of over 200 Lodi grown wines to taste, cooking and wine education "schools," and live music on the lush, green, wooded peninsula between Lodi Lake and the rolling Mokelumne River. To paraphrase our former governator, "We'll be back..." 

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Randy Caparoso
March 20, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Recipe for positive shelter-in-place living with Lodi Zinfandel and Zinfandel beef stew

As of today, at least in California, "shelter in place" is no longer a suggestion. It is mandated. Venturing outside our doors to get groceries and any other essential will still be okay, but practical questions about what is "essential" will remain. The big question, of course, will be how can we make life in general... a little more livable?

Zinfandel, we suppose. Especially Lodi's brand of Zinfandel, which at least has the advantage of tasting like, well, Zinfandel grown in Lodi.

What is that taste? Zinfandel lovers as a group know that Lodi in general grows a softer, friendlier, zingy yet sturdy style of Zinfandel. Even at 14% or 15% alcohol, they never taste excessively "big" or heavy, nor are they light and wimpy. Two reasons for that..: 

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Randy Caparoso
March 18, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Why LODI RULES is more important than ever to health conscious and woke consumers

LODI RULES FARMERS vineyard sign (photo courtesy of Joseph Magnelli)

The quality of wines from around the world has grown and proliferated so much over the past ten, twenty years, consumers now have a nearly impossible range to choose from. And so in today's market, it is coming down to very specific tastes and preferences. It is also coming down to choices that meet the needs of individual health-related concerns and social consciousness.

Which makes the option of choosing wines bearing a "Certified Green" seal such as those associated with LODI RULES for Sustainable Winegrowing even more significant than when this wine label program was first launched four years ago. While the number is continuously growing, there are now over 40 wineries marketing wines with this seal of sustainability...

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Randy Caparoso
March 12, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Hands-on vineyard workshop on Lodi Beneficial Insect Plants

Emma Starr (daughter of Lodi growers Charlie and Sandi Starr) planting yarrow during the Lodi Beneficial Insect Plants Hedgerow Workshop

This past Tuesday (March 10, 2020) saw a beautiful morning out in Lodi wine country. Still a little nippy in the air, but under bright and crystal blue skies, while little tiny pinkish buds were starting to poke out of surrounding trellised vines owned and farmed by LangeTwins Family Winery & Vineyards.

The occasion was a Hedgerow Workshop with The Xerces Society, sponsored by the Lodi Winegrape Commission, when nearly 50 Lodi growers gathered around to learn more about why, what and how to plant rows of native California plants — particularly plants that are indigenous to Northern San Joaquin Valley — known to boost the population of beneficial insects in a given area as much as 28 times (they learned) over...

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Randy Caparoso
March 10, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

Wherefore art thou, Lodi Sauvignon blanc?

Sauvignon blanc harvest in Oak Farm Vineyards estate in Lodi's Mokelumne River appellation

What are the "best" Lodi grown Sauvignon blancs produced today? 

Read on, and we'll share detailed notes on 10 of Lodi's most popular Sauvignon blancs, but not before this caveat: If you've read any number of our blogs posted over the past 10 years, you already know that we don't like the word "best." At a certain quality wine level, wines are never really "better" than each other. They're more like... different! 

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Randy Caparoso
March 3, 2020 | Randy Caparoso

How to delineate the proliferating styles of today's Lodi Zinfandels

Two of the original architects behind the lush, fruit expressive style of Zinfandel for which Lodi is now renowned: Michael David Winery's consulting winemaker Barry Gnekow (left) and head winemaker Adam Mettler

While Lodi grown Zinfandels are finer than ever, bottlings have proliferated to such an extent that consumers now have a choice of numerous styles to choose from. Quite often, multiple styles put out by just one producer!

Do you prefer a lighter, easy drinking, fruit forward Zinfandel? There is a growing number of Lodi Zinfandels deliberately crafted in this style, once considered old fashioned, and now very much back in fashion. Or do you prefer a bigger, bolder, ultra-ripe, heavily oaked style of Zinfandel? Lots of that style still coming out of Lodi, too...

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Lodi Wine Visitor Center
2545 West Turner Road Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Thursday - Monday 10:00am-5:00pm

Lodi Winegrape Commission
2545 West Turner Road, Lodi, CA 95242
Open: Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

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